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Louis Armstrong
The funky beat of musical New Orleans
The funky beat of musical New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — The cab careened past Washington Square and onto Frenchmen Street. It was close to 10 p.m., and the neighborhood was filled with locals adorned with tattoos, piercings and lots of ragged black accessories. "The cab drivers call this 'Freak Street,'" our driver said. "Because a lot of crazy characters hang out here — guys in skirts with huge holes in their ears, that kind of thing. But we mean it in a good way. This is where all the music happens." My Australian friend, Jordan, and I had spent the last few days finding novel ways to avoid Bourbon Street, where I had twice been accosted by drunken frat boys in flip-flops who wanted to...